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Maynard Ferguson: The One and Only Maynard Ferguson

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Throughout his sixty-plus year career, Maynard Ferguson featured numerous sidemen on varying arrangements of jazz standards, covers of pop hits and original songs. As a young man, he performed with such legends as Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie and Stan Kenton. As a bandleader, his stage band and studio guests included a virtual who's who of jazz, including Bob James, David Sanborn, Nathan East, Stanley Clarke, George Benson and Steve Gadd. Born in Canada but living in the United States for much of his life, Ferguson has done it all. Big bands and small ensembles, he's played straight jazz, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Maynard Ferguson: The One and Only

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In baseball parlance, one could say he went down swingin'. In July, 2006, less than a month before his passing at age seventy-eight, trumpeter Maynard Ferguson led Big Bop Nouveau and a handful of the group's notable alumni into a studio in Englewood, NJ, to record what is arguably his finest album in years, and one that presumably no one, least of all Maynard himself, suspected might be his last.

On the other hand, we'll never know if Ferguson may have had a premonition of some sort, as he clearly pulled out all the stops, not only playing remarkably well ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Maynard Ferguson: MF Horn VI: Live at Ronnie's

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In August 2005, when Maynard Ferguson and Big Bop Nouveau recorded MF Horn VI at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in London, no one could have known or even suspected that the trumpet legend would pass away one year later, shortly after a series of sold-out concerts at New York City's Blue Note nightclub and another recording session with BBN, this one a studio date in Englewood, New Jersey.

There's a saying about cowboys and westerners who lived life to the fullest that “they died with their boots on. Maynard Ferguson died almost literally with his horn to his lips, which ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Remembering Maynard at "Stratospheric" 2004

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Maynard Ferguson grinned with delight as the sounds of “Blue Birdland roared from a big band of 14 trumpeters. When the chart ended, he climbed on stage and declared, “Finally, somebody got it right! We don't need those funny instruments like saxophones and trombones!

MF's classic wit and charisma were bonus elements of the four-day production in 2004 of “Stratospheric: A Maynard Ferguson Big Band Alumni Reunion. MF reminisced energetically during panel discussions and was readily accessible to chat with admirers before and after events.

That October weekend in Los Angeles was high-note heaven for nearly 1,000 fans from around ...

ARTIST PROFILES

Maynard Ferguson: Influential

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I remember the first time I saw Maynard Ferguson in concert. It was spring 1982, the Cross & Sword Amphitheater in St. Augustine, Fla. It was my first time seeing a live jazz act, and the program left me feeling very satisfied. I knew I was onto something, although that could have been said the first time I played Conquistador (Columbia, 1977), Maynard's best-selling album which featured the top 30 hit “Gonna Fly Now. The band, I would learn later, was typical of Maynard's ensembles. Trumpet section leader Stan Mark was the only musician I knew from the ...

BIG BAND REPORT

Maynard Ferguson: Gonna Fly Now

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On Thursday morning, as Betty and I finished packing for our second trip to the Prescott, Arizona, Jazz Summit (more about that later), the e-mails started to arrive. The first was a rumor; the second confirmed the unwelcome news. Maynard Ferguson, a trumpeter whose breathtaking virtuosity, especially in the higher register, epitomized the word incredible, had passed away at eight o'clock Wednesday evening (August 23) in Ventura, California. He was seventy-eight years old.

At times like these, we writers are counted on to offer some perspective, insight, words of wisdom or what-have-you. Well, there's nothing I can say about Maynard ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Maynard Ferguson: MF Horn 2 / The Ballad Style

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The two albums on this CD reissue from Vocalion were recorded during trumpeter Maynard Ferguson's “English period (1968-72). It was a time when Ferguson was trying a number of new things, some of which worked, and some of which didn't. The first eight tracks are from MF Horn 2, the others from The Ballad Style of Maynard Ferguson.

As one can readily hear on MF Horn, Ferguson had turned away from more traditional jazz and popular standards and toward such more recent pop songs as James Taylor's “Country Road, John Lennon's “Mother, Isaac Hayes' “Theme from Shaft, David Clayton-Thomas' “Spinning ...

DVD/VIDEO/FILM REVIEWS

Maynard Ferguson: Live -- At the Top

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Maynard Ferguson Live -- At the Top Brentwood Home Video 1975/2005

I loved trumpeter Maynard Ferguson's bands of the early to mid-'60s -- great charts, great players, and they swung their butts off. By 1974, when Live -- At the Top was filmed at the Plaza Hotel in Rochester, NY, Maynard had entered his “pop/funk/rock" phase for Columbia Records, covering hit songs by Lennon/McCartney ("Hey Jude") and Jimmy Webb ("MacArthur Park,"), recording themes from the movies Star Wars, Shaft, The Way We Were and, most notably, Rocky, and doing whatever else was necessary to ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Maynard Ferguson: Conquistador

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Maynard Ferguson's only gold album, Conquistador split its session time between his big band in San Francisco and a contemporary studio ensemble in New York. The 1977 album's memorable themes from Star Trek and Rocky, as well as the enchanting “Mister Mellow," made use of the studio ensemble with superlative results. Bob James and George Benson added a considerably fresh atmosphere to the album and ensured its crossover success.

While “Gonna Fly Now" and “Theme From Star Trek“ turned out to be the big hits, the rest of the album remains significant for its overall pleasant atmosphere and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Maynard Ferguson: Chameleon / Conquistador

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It‘s not your everyday big band that has three simultaneous scream trumpet players on every song. Nevertheless, it is what has come to be expected from the master trumpeter-band leader Maynard Ferguson. The newly re-released and re-mastered Maynard Ferguson Big Band tapes, Chameleon and Conquistador, fully embody the modern big band. It has all the elements of a good big band. All horn sections blend beautifully. The band has great dynamic contrast. The rhythm section swings, grooves, and metrically modulates with ease. Maynard features young killer soloists with crazy chops (who play ridiculously high). And oh yeah, there’s that impeccable ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Michael Feinstein w/ Maynard Ferguson: Big City Rhythms

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Up to this point, Michael Feinstein has focused his talents on Broadway and Tin Pan Alley tunes. This is his first foray into big band swing, and it's a rewarding and satisfying effort.  Feinstein exhibits expressiveness, precision, and an excellent command of dynamics.  Maynard Ferguson is primarily in a supporting role here, fronting a full big band comprised of his current Big Bop Nouveau personnel, some alumni, and some L.A. big band pros. He does get a few solo spots, such as a trademark high-note solo on "You Can't Lose 'em All," plus some mellow flugelhorn and muted trumpet ornamentations ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Michael Feinstein with the Maynard Ferguson Big Band: Big City Rhythms

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Big City Rhythms represents something of a departure for singer / composer / arranger Michael Feinstein. Instead of centering his performance on the works of a single popular composer, as he usually does, Feinstein takes a large bite out of the Great American Songbook; and instead of performing with a small group or generic big band, he enlists the services of trumpeter Maynard Ferguson whose ensemble is hardly an unknown quantity. The upshot is a marvelous album that offers the best of all possible worlds — great singer, great band, great arrangements, great pleasure from start to finish and everywhere ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Maynard Ferguson: Brass Attitude

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Maynard has scaled back the personnel of his orchestra in recent years but his 10-piece Big Bob Nouveau still packs a hefty punch. They provide plenty of brassy backing and rhythmic muscle for Maynard's lip-busting high note gyrations. Although he has recently shown a certain degree of restraint, the seventy-year-old trumpeter is still capable of uncorking the kind of stratospheric barrages that made him famous. Brass Attitude kicks off with a punchy, boppish arrangement of Just Friends, featuring Tom Garling and Carl Fischer trading licks on superbones (a combined valve and slide trombone). Garling provided the arrangements for three of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Maynard Ferguson & Big Bop Nouveau: Brass Attitude

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Even after traveling the world over, often in primitive conditions, enduring countless one–night stands in towns large and small, and playing lead trumpet in groups of all shapes and sizes, Maynard Ferguson has never wavered in his love for Jazz or lost his enthusiasm for blowing — an enthusiasm that leaps out and grabs you whenever his youthful Big Bop Nouveau is within hearkening distance. To help keep the fires burning, Maynard surrounds himself with talented young players who push him to the limit, and his latest edition of BBN is no exception with capable holdovers Carl Fischer, Tom Garling, ...



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